Well, the Watauga High men's basketball team turned its fortunes around Tuesday night by whipping South Caldwell 65-32 at Lentz-Eggers Gym in a Northwestern 3A/4A Conference game.
It was a must win for a team that had lost
six of its last seven games. Jake Pifer led the Pioneers with 19 points; DeWayne Mackey came off the bench and poured in ten; Jesse Chasteen had eight points and nine rebounds as the Pioneers (6-7 overall; 2-2 NW3A/4A) blitzed South Caldwell with a 22-point explosion in the first quarter. And WHS coach Rob Sanders gives a lot of credit for the turnaround to his JV team.
"We brought those guys up to scrimmage against the varsity guys for the last 30-minutes of practice (Monday) night," he said. "And it woke our guys up, at least for tonight it did. It made them realize just how hard we have to play every night, and we carried that over into this game."
The Pioneers built a commanding 22-6 lead in the first quarter. The lead grew to 26 points in the second quarter as the Pioneers led 37-11 at the intermission. The lead eventually ballooned to 40 points in the final stanza.
"This was a big win for us," said WHS senior Matt Proffitt, who had four points, five rebounds and three steals. "We really wanted to win this one. It's a (Class) 4A school, and after we lost to Alexander (Central last Friday) it really hit home. We really wanted to pick up our momentum."
Now, the Pioneers have to follow this up with a strong showing tonight at Ashe County. The Huskies have won 12 straight, which includes a 53-51 win against the Pioneers at Lentz-Eggers Gym on December 14. Andrew Lopp won that game as he buried the game-winner at the horn.
"And we'll get a real test (tonight) against Ashe County," Sanders said. "We played well at times tonight, but we were still sloppy at times. We still have a lot of room for improvement. But we got the win, and it was a conference win, and that's what matters the most. We jumped on this team tonight, and we didn't let up."
But the Pioneers have had their problems in West Jefferson in recent years. Since Marc Payne stepped in as head coach of the Huskies, the Pioneers have lost seven of their last nine meetings at the Dog Pound.
"It's a rivalry game," Sanders said. "We do the same things they do. We both believe in defense and rebounding. That's what we've built our reputations on. It's going to be a challenge. They haven't won 12 in a row by accident. But it's also a fun rivarly, and I just hope we can feed off what we did tonight and carry it into that game."
The win also gives WHS a 1-1 record and the No.2 seed in the Class 4A division at the moment in the NW3A/4A Conference. Meanwhile, South Caldwell continues to struggle against WHS. The Spartans haven't beaten the PIoneers since the 2005-06 season; they have won in Boone since 2003-04 (and the Spartans swept the season series from WHS that season).
WHS 65, SOUTH CALDWELL 32
SCORE BY PERIODS 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
SOUTH CALDWELL 6 5 10 11 32
WATAUGA 22 15 16 12 65
SCHS: WINGATE 2, HODGE 2, REDDING 2, EVANS 2, HALLYBURTON 4, PROBST 13, MASK 5, MINTON 2.
WHS: PIFER 19, POULOS 4, PROFFITT 4 (5 REBOUNDS, 3 STEALS), HOWSER 9 (5 REBOUNDS), CHASTEEN 8 (9 REBOUNDS), KOPPENHAVER 4, STURGILL 4, MACKEY 10, CHAMBERS 3.
BOLLINGER, SPARTANS UPEND WHS WOMEN
The South Caldwell High women's basketball team continued its hex on the Pioneers Tuesday night. The Spartans, who lost to WHS (3-10 overall; 1-3 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) in the semifinals of the conference tournament last February in Hickory, avenged that loss by whipping the Pioneers 50-34 at Lentz-Eggers Gym in a NW3A/4A Conference game.
And the Spartans, despite that semifinal loss, haven't lost in Boone since the 2003-04 season (Todd Dixon's rookie year as WHS coach). But the Spartans needed a strong second-half rally to pull this one out. The Pioneers got off to a strong start and built and early 8-0 lead. The lead eventually grew to 12 points in the first half.
But the Spartans (8-6; 4-1), who moved into sole possession of second place in the league standings with Tuesday's win, came charging back, thanks to freshman Anna Lee Bollinger, and got within five at 26-21 at the halftime break. A pair of buckets by Hannah Margolis, who carried the Pioneers offensively in the first half, provided WHS with that five-point cushion at the intermission.
But the Spartans kept Margolis, who scored 11 points in the opening stanza, in check the rest of the way. She finished with 16 points. And the Spartans outscored WHS 29-8 in the second half.
"As good as we were at times, we were just as bad," said WHS coach Klay Anderson. "This would have been a huge win for us to make a move in the conference standings. We just let it get away. And give (South Caldwell coach) Jeff (Parham) a lot of credit. His girls got off to a slow start, but they kept playing hard and took this game away from us."
Bollinger, who was an outstanding player at Granite Falls Middle School last season, finished with a game-high 18 points. Shania Sams chipped in with ten points to pace the Spartans.
"Anna Lee is going to be a great player for them the next few years," Anderson said. "And Shania is comfortable being a distributor. But she hit some big shots in the second half that allowed them to pull away."
The Spartans outscored WHS 13-2 in the third quarter and built a 35-28 lead. And things got worse from there as the Spartans built their advantage to 19 points in the fourth quarter.
"We just couldn't make any shots, and we couldn't get to the offensive boards. That was the key," Anderson said. "When we hit that snag, it really put us in a hole. But we were within seven points to start the fourth quarter, but we let them go on a run and it basically did us in for the night."
Savanna Wood finished with seven points; Whitney Dunnigan and Kalie Eppley each had four points. The loss also leaves WHS with an 0-2 record and in last place among the Class 4A schools in the conference. The WHS men and women travel to Ashe County tonight. Our coverage begins at 6 p.m. on Oldies 100.7 FM.
NOTES: The JV girls defeated South Caldwell 30-18. Ryan Loflin led WHS with eight points; Elle Sloboda had seven points and Clare Harris had five......The JV boys (13-0) remained undefeated as they crushed South Caldwell 49-20. Cameron Baker had 12 points, ten rebounds and nine steals to pace the Pioneers; Jake Chasteen had nine points and nine rebounds; Matt Lambert had eight points and six boards.
SOUTH CALDWELL 50, WHS 34
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
SOUTH CALDWELL 10 11 14 15 50
WATAUGA 16 10 2 6 34
SCHS: SHERRILL 4, YOUNCE 9, GROSS 5, BOLLINGER 18, WOOD 4, SAMS 10.
WHS: WOOD 7, DUNNIGAN 4, WALLACE 3, EPPLEY 4, MARGOLIS 16.
SOUTH CALDWELL 50, WATAUGA 34
HICKORY 72, HIBRITEN 32
FRED T. FOARD 54, ST. STEPHENS 31
ALEXANDER CENTRAL 68, NORTH IREDELL 59
WATAUGA 65, SOUTH CALDWELL 32
HICKORY 86, HIBRITEN 50
ST. STEPHENS 60, FRED T. FOARD 48
ALEXANDER CENTRAL 58, NORTH IREDELL 42
(MEN & WOMEN)
WATAUGA @ ASHE COUNTY